(Updated in 2020)
Summer is here! This Lychee and Ginger Cooler will help you refresh with some fresh lychees, basil, ginger & lemon. Top it off with vodka when you’re ready for happy hour!
When I was in Mitsuwa (Japanese supermarket) last week, they have lychees. I immediately grabbed a bag. It has been a long time since I had lychee. It is probably because they can only be found in Asian supermarkets.
Back in Hong Kong, my mom would always buy a bunch of lychees during summer. My sister and I would gather around the dining table to munch off these sweet and juicy red fruits. They were so hard to resist. However no matter how much you like it, we would be told not to eat too much.
Why? In the world of Chinese medicine, all food is being categorized as neutral, cooling or warming. To keep things balanced in our bodies, it is important to beware of what we eat. Lychee is considered as a warming food. What does that mean? If you eat too many lychees, you can get sick, such as stomachache or nose bleed.
Even though I don’t follow everything in Chinese medicine, I do believe in this cooling and warming effect. I remember one time, I ate too much fried food (warming food). All the sudden, the back of my ear started to hurt. My godmother gave me a fresh pear (cooling food) to eat. I was much better right away. Too much of anything is bad, right? There is no problem eating lychee, just don’t eat too much each time.
With the fresh lychee in hands and the warmer weather approaching, I was determined to make a drink. I used half of my lychee to make this sweet drink. It is really refreshing! So perfect for summer!
First, peel and deseed the lychees. Muddle the flesh and get all the juice. Other than the sweet lychee juice, it is also sweetened by a ginger and basil syrup. Just boil a little bit of water with sugar, ginger and basil. Reduce for 10 minutes. It wasn’t very strong, but you can taste a hint of the spicy ginger and fragrant basil. Combine the lychee juice and syrup. Top with ice and soda. Ta da! Done! If you are feeling something boozy, add some vodka. It is just as good!
Lychee & Ginger Cooler
- 4 pieces ginger slices (each slice is about 1x1x1/8-inch in size)
- 6 fresh basil leaves (plus more for garnish)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 12 fresh lychees
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 10 ice cubes
- 12 ounces club soda
- 2 ounces vodka (optional)
- Lightly smash the ginger slices (it should still stay intact). Break the basil leaves in halves.
- In a small pot over medium heat, add ginger, basil, sugar, and ¾ cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let it cool for 20 minutes. Pour into a heatproof measuring cup. Stir in lemon juice as well.
- Meanwhile, peel the lychees and remove the pits. Save the juice in the process. Place the lychee flesh in a small bowl and muddle to release juice. Strain the pulp and add the juice to the ginger syrup. Stir well.
- Add the ice cubes to 2 serving glasses. Divide the juice into the cups. Top with soda and 1 ounce of vodka for each glass (if using). Add 1 tablespoon meshed lychee pulp into each glass. Stir. Garnish with extra basil leaves. Serve immediately.
- Ginger basil syrup can be made a few hours ahead. Let it cool to room temperature and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- Why smash the ginger? That will help release the flavors into the syrup.
- Don’t throw away the meshed lychee pulp. Enjoy them yourselves while making the cooler.